Solicitors ACS Law has been hit by a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack from a vigilante group angered by what it sees as the firm's harrassment of broadband users suspected of copyright sharing.
The law firm restored its website, but left an encrypted backup file in the public space which was subsequently found and distributed over the internet. The file contained private information such as users' web browsing habits and credit card information.
James Bench from website beingthreatened.com, set up to advise and co-ordinate those being chased by firms such as ACS Law, stated that while they do not condone the attack, they welcome the attention the solicitor's practices are now receiving.
"I've spoken to many people who are panicked. Someone is threatening to take them to court, and they barely know how to send an email," he said. "It's difficult to prove you are innocent."
Bench said that many respondents pay the fine out of fear.
"When they write to you, they send you the IP address from which the illegal activity originated, and the version of the file sharing client used." He argues that this may not be significant enough information to prove guilt.
Bench said that the software or the processes used by the companies that collect data on alleged copyright infringers have not been scrutinised.
An article on BitTorrent news and community site TorrentFreak highlights findings from the confidential data inadvertantly leaked from ACS' website. It states that the company has fined file-sharers £600,000 to date and this money was divided between the law firm, the copyright holder and the monitoring company.
ACS Law was unavailable for comment.